What is anxiety?
Many people use the word "anxiety" to mean feelings of nervousness, worry and/or panic which may be brief or long-lasting. Our bodies have many intricate ways of protecting us from danger: our immune systems, for example, protect us by fighting bacteria and other biological invaders. Another protective process involves the "fight, flight or freeze" instinct. In times of danger, this process protects us by producing adrenaline, revving up our heart rate, increasing oxygen and blood supply to muscles, and getting us ready to fight or run. This was especially necessary when we lived among animals such as bears and wolves, and would need to be ready if they approached. Modern stress doesn 't often require us to fight or run, though; sometimes the best response is to walk away, or try to generate new solutions. In these cases, the adrenaline has nowhere to go, and creates a stressful situation in the body and mind. Over time, if we don't learn ways of dealing with this stress, our bodies become fatigued, we become less able to deal with changes and transitions, and our relationships with other people and with the world can suffer.
How can I get rid of my anxiety?
Since some anxiety is essential for survival (for example, you wouldn't walk confidently into the road if a large truck was approaching), it is important to appreciate our internal "alarm system." Finding balance is the key to feeling better. Talking with a therapist about what tends to bring up your anxiety can help identify where to start. Learning how to have a different response to your anxious thoughts and feelings is possible! Once you learn how to observe your own thoughts and choose your responses, life gets easier to cope with.
Does medication help with anxiety?
There are many anti-anxiety medications on the market. If your anxiety prevents you from working or maintaining relationships, it is important to see a psychiatrist, APRN or physician who is trained to discuss medication with you and prescribe if necessary. However, many people find that "talk therapy" can help relieve many anxiety symptoms. If you take anti-anxiety medication, it is essential to continue therapy in order to learn new ways of dealing with your anxiety. Medication alone will not "cure" anxiety.
What is the best way to help my anxious child?
Children have much less control over their lives than adults. When life gets stressful, children can feel more anxiety. It's important to remember that in times of family transitions, or even when introducing new experiences such as starting school, children need time to learn about what is happening, and to get their questions answered. When a child seems to have a pattern of anxious behavior, or if anxiety is preventing your child from getting to school or enjoying friends, it may be time to visit a therapist to learn new ways to manage these feelings.
What can I do to help myself with anxiety, besides medication and therapy?
Any stressor on the body or mind will increase anxiety symptoms, if you have them. Therefore, good self care is important in preventing and coping with anxiety. This includes eating a nutritious diet, getting regular exercise (as approved by your doctor), getting adequate sleep, and staying in touch with friends and family.
If you have further questions about anxiety, or would like to talk about any of the information presented here, please call the office at 860-303-4108 and ask to speak with Diane Phimister.
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